Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Valerie Rohy

Abstract

Asexuality—though increasingly represented in film and television, popular discourse, activism, and the LGBTQ+ community—remains practically unrecognized by established scholars within queer theory. This thesis project traces the issue to the difficulty of having productive discussions about asexuality within the psychoanalytic framework used so frequently by queer theorists. It goes on to posit that, within this context, asexuality can only be used productively if understood in terms of drive, rather than desire—which is the more frequent site for discussions of sexual orientation. Using drive allows asexuality to be thought of in terms other than lack or deficiency, ultimately laying the groundwork for examinations of the ways in which difference is subsumed by lack. In other words, this project has the potential to do far more than challenge queer theory’s practice of asexual erasure. The process of refiguring what is commonly understood as lack or deficiency in terms of difference both extends one of queer theory’s major projects and endows asexuality studies with the potential to enter a wide range of discussions, like those centering around neoliberal capitalism or disability studies.

This project examines the elision of asexuality—generally understood as a lack of sexual attraction to others—over the past couple of decades by some of queer theory’s key figures, responds to the contemporary queer theorists that do acknowledge (and even focus on) asexuality, investigating their unwillingness or inability to work productively with psychoanalysis, and considers the link that already exists between asexuality and psychoanalysis, breaking down the ways in which variations in the functioning of drive (a force in Lacanian psychoanalysis distinct from—but inextricably linked to—desire) are coded as asexuality. It ultimately discusses the ways in which our current understanding of asexuality is linked to variations (either lack or excess) in the “proper” sexual functioning of drive rather than lack or deficiency, offering asexuality studies as a way to challenge dominant ideologies surrounding deficiency, success, and excess—both insides and outside of discussions around sexuality.

Language

en

Number of Pages

68 p.

Available for download on Sunday, April 24, 2022

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